Football Is….

…a game of two halves.   There’s a match every season when it’s time to run out that old chestnut again – I think our Tuesday night game against Bury Town FC was it.   With The Blues recent run of bad form and Bury lying 8th in the table with three wins out of four in the past month, it was a game which looked likely to be a difficult one for the home side.

After the poor showing on Saturday the manager must have been thinking about making some changes. Leon, who has been looking a bit jaded over the last few weeks, was given a rest with Murat starting in his place after a period away on loan. Alongside in the 10 shirt was a newcomer to the club – Some young lad named Max Mitchell – I’m sure we’ll get to know him better in the weeks to come 🙂

The match started briskly and Bury had the first bite at taking the lead with a strong low drive from a free kick. Bobby saw it coming though and was able to push it away to safety. W & F fans watched on with a degree of trepidation after recent results, wondering if they were going to be subjected to another defeat. What happened next was a Christmas fairy tale and left the fans bedazzled. Putting together a string of passes, the home side pushed Bury back to the edge of their area. A beautiful final pass found Murat clear of defenders and able to take a shot on the opposition goal. It was beautifully struck from around 15 yards and left Bury keeper Garnham with no chance as it speared into the goal. 10 minutes and 1-0 to the home side!

Celebration Time

Celebration Time

Almost before we’d had time to think a free kick was awarded on the right wing after Gary Burrell was hacked down from behind by the Bury number 11. It was a cynical foul which probably deserved a yellow card but only drew a talking-to from the ref. Gary made them pay with a peach of a delivery that Murat met with a clean header that sent the ball back across goal and beyond the Bury keeper’s outstretched glove. 2-0 and only 16 mins on the clock! Murat does like to celebrate and he, along with some of the other players, rushed to the fans behind the goal to exchange hugs. I think we were all a bit bemused at this stage and there was a lot of metaphorical pinching-ones-self going on.

Once again, with 30 minutes on the clock Gary found himself delivering a cross from a free kick on the right wing. Another great delivery that picked out Murat – he made no mistake in dispatching this chance either, this time to the goalkeepers right. Weathers’ following in could only wave his finger in the air in a gesture of appreciation. 3-0 to Wingate and Finchley and Murat’s hat-trick 🙂 Once again the excited players and fans met for hugs beside the goal – the party being broken up by the referee who insisted on a swift return to the centre circle. I’m pleased I wasn’t with the main bulk of the fans – I don’t need lipstick on the front element of the lens 😉

As I changed camera position I passed Phil. Now I sometimes wonder whether Phil is a little bit fey or just the eternal pessimist (most groups of fans have a few of those in their midst). So as I passed, he said “If we lose this now it’ll destroy the players confidence.” Thanks Phil 😦 The rest of the half was a bit of a nothing 15 minutes and we retired to the clubhouse in a non-beer induced state of intoxication!

The second half became interesting, for want of a better word, when Bury scored three minutes after the break with a perfectly placed shot by Danny Cunningham. The effect upon the Wingate & Finchley players was immediate – suddenly, the confident passing of the first half went AWOL and the visitors were able to press. When a team has been struggling for wins, its confidence can be very fragile. That one goal had shattered the first half aura of calm and a degree of panic seemed to set in.

Bobby Saves!

Bobby Saves!

With Bury spending more and more time in the home penalty area it was inevitable that sooner or later they’d win a penalty – Kieron mis-timed a tackle just 6 minutes later and the ref pointed to the spot. The fans stood in a state of suspense while Billy Clark prepared to take the kick. The ref blew his whistle and Clark drove it hard and low – but too close to Bobby, who guessed the correct side and made the save, grabbing the ball before the stunned taker could move in and score from the rebound! Justice!!! Why do I say that? Because the person who won the penalty probably should have been off for 2 bookable offences in the first half – but the ref was being lenient to the visitors and had only given him a talking-to on both occasions.

However – The visitors continued to have the run of the Wingate & Finchley half and seemed free to attack at will. Their fans behind the home goal could be heard singing “We’ve got Wingate on the run” and it seemed that they had a point. With 15 minutes of the half gone Bury won a free kick just outside the area on the left. Bobby set up his wall and positioned himself in readiness. Lee Smith, from a short run up hit the ball perfectly in a looping curve into the very top right corner of the goal – one of those precision kicks that no keeper, world class or ordinary mortal, will ever be able to get a glove to. A sublime goal and one that he will justifiably cherish.

Unstoppable

I can reach that... No I can't!

3-2 and now the Bury fans were singing “We’re gonna win 4-3”! I usually decline to enter the golden goal competition at the game on the basis that I am, in a way, making a prediction of when a team will score and maybe influencing the result in some way. Of course I’m not but it’s one of those little superstitions that we all build up over a number of years of supporting a team. Singing about how you’re going to win is another one that I don’t do – it’s courting disaster (unless sung in jest because you’re being totally outclassed and there’s no chance of it happening!). It should have been 3-3 at this stage but for the brilliant save of the penalty and I wonder now if that was the pivotal point of the game or if the next piece of action was the key to the final result.

Bury won another free kick on the right wing. The kick was lofted in and found the head of a Bury forward who planted it in the net. The equaliser! – No!!! The referee had been whistling frantically as the kick was taken, though he might as well have been whistling Dixie for all the notice the players had taken! Too much jostling in the box – he ordered the kick to be retaken. Same kick, same person on the end of it, but this time the header looped harmlessly over the bar and the score stayed at 3-2 to Wingate & Finchley.

Hat-trick Hero

Hat-trick Hero Murat challenges for the ball late in the second half

Just as the first goal had shattered the home side’s confidence, the combination of the penalty save and the disallowed equaliser seemed to restore their self belief and the team once again got a grip on the game. As evening dampness turned to steady rain they played out the rest of the half in relative calm, holding on for the win! The fans roundly applauded the players for their fortitude. A great game to watch and finally a positve result, albeit a nail-biter of a match. As the ref and his assistants walked down the tunnel one of the local wags could be heard shouting – “Where are you going with that ball referee – That’s Murat’s!”

All thoughts expressed are my own and do not represent the views of Wingate & Finchley FC.

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Comments

  1. Hope you’re enjoying the holi~daze, Martin!

  2. Great entry Martin
    Happy New Year To you 🙂

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